2008.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Nature and Content, Australia, 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/08/2015   
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Information collected under this topic provides details about rent and mortgage payments made by households for the dwelling in which they were enumerated on Census Night. Data from this topic is important as it is used to assist in setting benchmarks for the Consumer Price Index and Australian National Accounts. This data is also used to estimate homelessness and housing affordability.

This topic brings together the former Mortgage costs topic and the Rent component of the former Landlord Type/Rent topic. This change simply regroups the various types of information covered in a way more logical to users of the data.


A question on mortgage costs was asked for the first time in the 1976 Census. In the 1981 Census the question was simplified to ask only whether there was a mortgage on the dwelling and if so, the amount of the monthly payments on the total mortgage. In the 1986 and 1991 Censuses, the question asked for the amount of the monthly payment being made on the loan(s) for the dwelling.

A question on weekly rent paid for each dwelling has been asked in every Australian Census since 1911. In 1947, householders were also asked to indicate whether the dwelling was rented furnished or unfurnished. Since 1971, in addition to stating the weekly rent, householders have been asked to indicate the type of landlord.

Due to the emergence of shared equity and rent-buy schemes and strong user demand for actual amounts rather than range data, the actual amount paid for the dwelling has been collected since the 1996 Census. Responses to the tenure type question are used to determine whether payments are recorded as rent or loan repayments.

For the 2006 and 2011 Censuses, the order of questions was changed to position the tenure type question before the mortgage repayments/rent and landlord type questions. Sequencing from the tenure type question directs respondents who indicate that they own their own home past these questions. This ordering has been retained for the 2016 Census.


When interpreting Census data on housing costs, it should be noted that households may be accelerating the repayment of the principal on their mortgage (a form of saving) or reducing their payments if they are already ahead of payment schedule. The increased popularity of more flexible mortgage products, such as loans with offset facilities or line of credit loans for example, are also likely to make interpretation of this data more difficult.


The following questions are from the paper 2016 Census Household Form.

Image: questions 57 and 58 from the paper 2016 Census Household Form.